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Brands Turn to Micro Influencers for Promotion During COVID-19

With many marketing budgets slashed and more consumers seeking meaningful content as a result of the coronavirus crisis, brands have had to adjust their strategies for working with Instagram influencers. But this doesn’t mean influencers are a thing of the past.

A new report by social media marketing firm Socialbakers indicates that brands may rely more on influencers to help spread their message in the post-coronavirus climate.

Socialbakers’ “State of Influencer Marketing Report” tracked statistics surrounding influencers before and during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the firm, brands can benefit from working with smaller influencers—specifically, micro influencers, which are defined as social media users with 10,000 or fewer followers.

“Despite the economic impact of COVID-19, brands are still investing in influencer marketing to reach their target audiences, but with a distinctly different approach,” said Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak.

“Nano and micro influencers are now seen as high-value resources, bringing high impact without the big price tag of macro and mega influencers,” Ben-Itzhak said. “As budgets remain tight, savvy brands will likely continue to expand partnerships with these smaller influencers as part of a smarter social media strategy in the wake of the continuing worldwide pandemic.”

The report showed that the number of Instagram influencers using the #ad hashtag (which signifies working with brands on sponsored posts) dropped 30 percent from April 2019 to April 2020. Similarly, the number of brands working with influencers dropped 37 percent during that same time period.

However, smaller influencers are seeing an uptick in brand partnerships. Over the past 16 months, about 40 percent of all brand partnerships were with small influencers—users with 10,000-50,000 followers—followed by micro influencers, according to the report.

Macro influencers—users with more than 1 million followers—made up just 1 percent to 3 percent of brand partnerships.

During a pandemic, working with smaller influencers is more financially appealing to brands—and in some cases, it’s more effective.

Socialbakers’ AI platform scores influencers based on their interactions per 1,000 followers, the number of followers and their posting activity. In Q1 2020, half of the top-scoring influencers had small or medium followings, demonstrating that “effective campaigns are being run with smaller, more natural influencers that are closer to the real public.”